Sneakers Auction Company Opens in London and Plans a Store

(Bloomberg) -- As the European retail industry tries to bat off the incursion from Inc., a new U.S. rival has just touched down in London: StockX, a three-year-old company that runs online auction markets for products like sneakers.

StockX, which connects buyers and sellers who want to trade new and second-hand shoes and streetwear on a platform similar to an online stock broker, has quickly become the largest such marketplace in the world. The company opened its first headquarters outside the U.S. in London in October, as it sees the U.K.’s 200 million-pound ($262 million) trainer resale market growing more than 20 percent a year.

Sneakers Auction Company Opens in London and Plans a Store

“London really is the European sneaker cultural capital,” Chief Executive Officer Josh Luber said in an interview. “After New York and Los Angeles, there’s more stock released from our site into London than anywhere else in the world.”

StockX, which lists more than $1 billion of merchandise each year worldwide, is trying to occupy part of a quickly developing market for online fashion and previously owned goods that European companies such as Richemont and Zalando SE have also been targeting. While its business model emulates EBay Inc.’s, it sees a different niche.

Initial Product Offerings

In addition to operating a resale market, StockX has been trying to work with brands to release new products directly into the market -- something it has dubbed “initial product offerings.”

The first was in early 2017, when it teamed up with Nike Inc. to release 23 pairs of limited-edition LeBron James sneakers. Each pair traded for an average of $6,000. This week, it has been auctioning slides designed by Ben Baller, who has designed jewelry for the likes of Drake and Kanye West.

“We don’t do it at scale yet, but we will,” Luber said.

Sneakers Auction Company Opens in London and Plans a Store

On StockX’s platform, items are assigned ticker symbols and users can follow the latest sale prices, 52-week highs and lows, trade ranges and price volatility. Traders can buy, hold and sell listed products, which also include watches and handbags.

The U.S. company has already attracted a plethora of big investors, including billionaire co-founder Dan Gilbert, actor Mark Wahlberg and rapper Eminem. It was launched in 2016 by 40-year-old Luber, who began collecting sneakers at age 8 and now owns more than 400, including Air Jordan 1s and Air Max 90s, kept in a special "shoe room" above his garage.

StockX is also planning to open a store in the U.K. capital to become better known, Luber said.

Art prints, collector toys and scooter decks could also be traded on the site eventually, the CEO said. Expansion to Asia is also on the horizon. StockX said it’s in talks with a number of different companies in China and is building a team in Tokyo.

“This year, Europe will be the big growth area and in Asia we’ll be laying the foundations,” Luber said.

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